'Halloween' Reinvigorates A Dying Horror Franchise
The years have been kind, Michael.
There are probably a ton of Generation X directors who grew up loving John Carpenter's slasher originator Halloween and its unstoppable villain, Michael Myers. David Gordon Green must be one of them — considering he's never made a horror movie before. His name in the credits is certainly weird. And that goes double for co-writer Danny McBride, best known as the erstwhile HBO dickhead Kenny Powers. However strange it is to see these names attached to Halloween 2018, the tenth sequel/remake/reboot, you'll soon forget all that. Green and McBride have made an elevated version of Carpenter's original, and reinvigorated the franchise.
Green, whose authentic southern tales have wowed critics for years since he broke through with George Washington in 2000, lends a professional eye to Halloween. There are gallery-worthy shots of Michael Myers in this one. Almost 40 years to the day after he first debuted as "The Shape," Michael (Nick Castle, James Jude Courtney) returns in a direct sequel to the original. Green ignores all the other Halloween movies and imagines Myers was caught that 1978 Halloween night after falling off the balcony, and has since been in a psychiatric hospital. But he escapes during a transfer, something Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), now 40 years wiser and 40 years more paranoid, has been preparing her entire life for.
Sarah Connor's got nothing on Strode and Curtis gives the gray-haired final grandma an edginess that makes you think she might actually be able to handle Michael. Curtis's casting is only one of the many ways Green celebrates Carpenter's work. He also takes us back to the suburbs, where we were originally haunted, to cast a shadow over all-American notions of comfort and safety. Fear is a killer in your own home. That still rings just as true as it always has. And Carpenter's old score returns again accompanied by perfect tracking shots that double as the killer's point of view. Green mimics Carpenter's shot selection throughout the film.
Back to Strode. She's never recovered from meeting Michael Myers and now lives in the woods, alone and preparing for exactly what happens in the movie. Her home (and I'm guessing this is McBride's influence here) is basically a big lobster trap for Michael. It's one of the fanboy details in this movie you gotta love.
The role reversal, of sorts, helps make this Halloween the best one since the first. Laurie hunts Michael. This leads to several standing applause-type moments, but it may have a more far-reaching effect. I can see this movie, pending box office results, ushering a whole new era for the Halloween franchise, and more, enticing other respected dramatic filmmakers to try their hands at horror. (Please Paul Thomas Anderson, remake Hellraiser.)
Laurie isn't the only Strode in Halloween. In fact, she's kind of useless until the end. The story focuses mainly on her estranged daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). They think Grandma is nuts, but we know better. The youngest Strode and her teenage friends bring the slasher out in Michael as he goes after them after escaping his shackles. These scenes are horror by-the-numbers. The script, while inventive, doesn't take too many chances thrills-wise and falls back on what worked in the first movie. Jump scares and mannequins are used well.
That especially rings true as the movie nears an end, which is masterfully done. Carpenter fans will appreciate what Green pulls off as Michael sets his sights on Laurie and she goes all Kevin McCallister on his ass. No spoilers, but the finish is full of that old Halloween feeling, yet also something different. Green knows what we want to see and he gives it to us in both familiar and new ways. He's a true fan, and his Halloween is a worthy installment that will hopefully reinvigorate a heretofore DOA franchise.